Better Than Any Man: Save the Children!

Disclaimer: may contain BTAM spoilers

After a couple of sessions struggling on as a desperate duo, Maldron and Balock are joined by a recovered Hemming, his magical aura intact after a disturbance in the ether. Resting overnight in the village of Zellingen, Maldron and Balock are pleased to see Hemming catch up with them, sure they will need some extra muscle with a side helping of sorcerous power (people loved sorcerous power in 1630’s Europe).

feasting-peasants-in-a-tavernThe next morning was spent debating their strategy and questioning the hapless barman about Thungen and Karlstadt.  They consider the Thungen situation – a small village taken over by a band of ruthless bandits who are able to force the locals to assist them in waylaying travellers because they have taken all of the village children hostage and are holding them in a barn. Or take on The Seven, the Sorcerers in control of Karlstadt and the cause of much concern in the area.

The Black Dogs decide to head onto Thungen. An observer might be tempted to think they are putting off the Karlstadt situation despite being instructed to deal with The Seven by Nicklaus Stein, their Black Dogs contact, and a potential reward of 10000 silvers from the Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg for the heads of The Seven.

A plan is formed; hire a wagon and head into Thungen with Balock and their NPC assistant Captain Hermann of the Wurzburg watch hidden by straw, and Maldron and Hemming acting as vulnerable merchants. Draw out the bandits, kill them all and save the children. What could go wrong?

After trading a wagon for two horses with the local hunter Fridericus, they persuade him to drive the wagon to Thungen as part of their ruse. With some other small preparation they head out to the small village, and within a few hours are approaching the place. Bird noises are heard and scouts spotted, so the Black Dogs know they have been seen and the bandits will be preparing a warm reception for them.  Shortly they see the village ahead; a tavern, the blacksmith and a few houses with the barn a couple of hundred yards beyond. Two men can be seen standing outside the barn.

mr-n-t-hicks-as-claude-duval-1850-lithographBelieving the Blacksmith Trubald to be a potential ally they approach his workshop, but two brigands come out of the tavern and walk alongside the wagon. Sensing imminent hostilities Hemming takes the initiative and fries the pair with screaming skull death magic attacks. All hell breaks lose, other brigands run out of the building and engage in combat and their leader Dittmar leans of the tavern door and takes a shot at Hemming.  The Swedish Sorcerer responds by hitting Dittmar with more screaming death skulls – for the minimum amount of damage, lousy dice! Maldron, Balock and Captain Hermann all join the fray with heads rolling and brigands dying.

A voice halts their action and they look up to see Dittmar on a small balcony at the front of the tavern. He draws their attention to one of his men who stands half way between the village and the barn, holding up what looks to be a small severed head… Dittmar’s vicious reputation is well deserved it seems.

Is it possible for The Black Dogs to stop Dittmar’s henchmen from killing more of the children in the barn? We’ll find out next time…

Better Than Any Man: He Slimed Me

Last session saw the Black Dogs descend into the dark, damp and thoroughly unpleasant basement of The Dogs Head tavern, a place they had discovered was used for torture and worse of children. All rooms off the corridor had been explored except the last one behind which could be the hellish monster; a collection of small body parts in various states of decay held together by an acidic slime. We left the group as Maldron was about to pull back the curtain covering the entrance to this room; perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that there was no monster there – only a bed-frame and a hole in the far wall, with traces of slime leading up to it.

The insistent shouting and banging on the tavern door could still be heard. Suddenly Balock and Maldron hear the door to the tavern smashed open and decide to crawl through the hole. A closer inspection reveals that the hole is in a concealed door – perhaps a route used by smugglers or for more nefarious means. With shouts of angry tavern goers behind the adventurers strike on through the tunnel which is dark and cramped.

Before too long the passage opens into a larger room which contains a stack of bones, perhaps other victims of the monster, for they find personal items amongst the skeletal remains; a comb, spoons, a brooch. A large chest is discovered which contains a nice haul; a large bag of silver coins and two gems in a wooden box.

Smugglers EntranceNow all is quiet behind and they do not believe they are being followed the PC’s continue along the tunnel and before too long they can hear rushing water. The tunnel opens in the side of the wharf with the river below; a distance to the left a wooden platform with steps up to the dockside. Balock climbs up onto the dock in time to see the scoundrels from The Dogs Head approaching – three ruffians and the priest from Wurzburg Cathedral. As Maldron and Miklos scramble up onto the dock the ruffians attack, but are quickly dispatched – one skewered by Balocks rapier, another sliced in half by Maldron. The priest flees shouting “Murder, murder!”, trying to get the guards to intervene.

The Black Dogs chase the priest who heads down a dark alleyway, in an attempt to escape. As the PC’s reach the top of the alleyway they can make out the priest, now just a silhouette, stop in his tracks. The light changes in the alley and the priest runs back towards the characters, but seems to be overtaken by an amorphous form, the light subtly twisting as it moves. There is no scream, and the adventurers decide it is time to take this creature head on. Nearby two city watchmen approach the dockside not far away and discover the bodies of the thugs – will they help or hinder the PC’s?

edb1401189428a55e32fb42d139b1257A brief battle follows, our hero’s (such as they are) versus a nightmarish creature borne from the suffering and agony of children; Balock’s bolts do little damage and Maldron seems to be unable to hit the creature. The slime encrusted body parts lash out at Maldron who is injured, and is then infected with the Grim Pox (we’ll find out more about that next week, hehe). Meanwhile Miklos keeps a distance, firing his crossbow when he can and healing the injured Maldron. More crossbow bolts slice small parts from the creature’s mass, then Maldron strikes a lucky blow, slicing the monster in half and Miklos finishes it off with a well aimed bolt.

It is not too long before the watchmen arrive on the scene, Hermann is summoned and the whole matter concluded. Maldron and Balock want to dig deeper, find out who’s really behind the horrific happenings at The Dogs Head, but Hermann reminds them that no one is offering to pay while the Prince-Bishop, Franz Von Haltfeld is offering a significant reward for the heads of The Seven, the Sorcerers of Karlstadt.

The next day Hermann brings the 500 silvers reward to the Sword and Flagon, the Inn which has served as their base. Now the Black Dogs need to decide what to do next…